Storm season continues
Warnings for a chain of severe thunderstorms were updated to a tornado warning for Penhold, Innisfail and Bowden last Monday, July 30.
Though no tornado was reported and relatively little damage was witnessed in town —there was a cracked tree by the white rock along 52 Avenue reported to the public works crew — the storm season’s not quite over yet.
“We’re still in the heat of the battle,” said Dan Kulak, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada who said the first couple of weeks of August can still host more storms.
“By the later part of August days get noticeably shorter and there’s less heat from the sun and things really do start to settle down,” he said.
“The core of the season is the last part of June to first part of August. We have those six weeks where it’s rock and roll just about every day somewhere.”
He said during the storm season someone seems to report a tornado sighting almost every other day but said people may be confused by the difference between a tornado and a straight line windstorm.
“The area of a typical tornado in Alberta is 100 metres wide or less, so what is the probability of multiple people in multiple areas on a single day all being hit by something 100 metres across? It just doesn’t make sense.” He said winds can travel out three or four kilometres at a speed in excess of 150km/hr.
He said in reality the province gets about 10 tornadoes a year.
He said what people really need to prepare for during the summer is lightning.
“Everybody’s so used to lightning because everybody sees thunderstorms, everybody hears thunder … But it’s those cloud-to-ground lightning (strikes) that is the biggest killer.” He said there are 300,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in Alberta every year which can strike 20 to 30 kilometres from the parent storm.
He said people shouldn’t take them for granted and should head inside as soon as they see lightning.
“Keep your eye on the sky, know what to look for and take shelter when it comes.”